Is It Time to Create Your Personal Team?

BY Kathy Crosett
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To increase your effectiveness and boost sales, you sometimes have to think outside the box. Your company probably provided basic sales training. And, you’ve been improving your interpersonal and presentation skills. To get to the next level, consider building a personal team as described by Antonio Neves in a recent Inc. column.

Neves talks about the importance of tapping trusted advisors to help you with career decisions. He’s not talking about your bestie who will politely listen to your rant about the latest office unfairness and agree with your sense of outrage. And he’s talking about going beyond the person who serves as your mentor, the older worker who knows her way around the company and how things work internally.

To really excel in your career, you need to cultivate relationships with several kinds of people. These advisors may be former co-​workers, a colleague you met at outside sales training, someone who you admire professionally, or a professor. Neves suggests having 3 to 5 people on your list. You should try to formalize these relationships by asking each person out to lunch or for coffee. Explain your goals and ask if they'll support outreach from you on a weekly or monthly basis. This outreach could be in the form or email or a quick IM or phone chat.

At any point, you should feel comfortable enough with these folks to reach out for advice. Chances are, they’ve encountered many of the same situations you’ll run into as you try to hone your sales career. Business goals and technology may change, but the basics – interpersonal relationships – don’t.

You’ll also want to respect their time. If you’ve chosen well, and you’re lucky enough to have your top people agree to your request, you don’t want to wear out your welcome.

Keep the boundaries of this relationship clear, Neves advises. These folks are not going to give you leads, and they don’t want to listen to you whine about how someone else got the promotion you were after. Instead, they might coach you on how to go after the next promotion – in terms of which whitepapers to write on your LinkedIn pages, which professional meetings to attend, and how to work for a manager who is making unreasonable demands on your time.

As your relationship with your personal advisors evolves, always listen to their ideas and thank them. You don’t have to follow their suggestions, but it’s good to know you don’t have to make key decisions all by yourself.